Sheriff's Capt. Mike Biaggini - "Mikie" to his boss - was remembered Wednesday as a gentle man whose death from colon cancer will leave a void among his colleagues in the law enforcement community that can't be filled.
"Even though you know it's going to happen, when it does, it has a huge impact on all of us," said Sheriff Ron Pierini, speaking Wednesday a few hours after Biaggini died at his home.
Biaggini, 55, was diagnosed in April 2001 with colon cancer. For the next 8-1⁄2 years, he underwent treatment and surgeries as the disease went in and out of remission. Last October, the veteran sheriff's officer was told that further treatment would not be successful.
He made plans to travel to the Bahamas for alternative treatment in January, but was too ill to make the trip.
After spending 17 days hospitalized in San Francisco, Biaggini returned to his home in Gardnerville. He was honored Jan. 30 at a retirement party attended by 300 friends, colleagues and family members.
He is survived by his wife Mary, and sons Michael, 8 and Nick, a corpsman at Camp Pendleton.
"One of the things that's just been outstanding is the amount of support this department has given Mike's family," Pierini said. "People are helping in any way they can with dinners and meals and just moral support."
Pierini said tentative plans are for a Feb. 27 celebration of Biaggini's life at St. Gall Catholic Church in Gardnerville. He expects 1,000 people to attend. Details are being worked out.
Pierini said Biaggini had a say in the plans.
"There was a lot of dialogue. We certainly wanted to do what he wanted," Pierini said.
Pierini said he expects representatives from law enforcement agencies all over the area to attend.
"We're going to do the best we can to make this as uplifting as we possibly can to celebrate his accomplishments and the kind of person he was," he said. "He was a good, honest man who was dedicated to helping people and dedicated to his family. He loved to go on every call there was. He loved the excitement of law enforcement. He never got tired of doing what he was doing. He could have gone on forever."